After reading part 1 of the Landscape Design Series, you should have a rough list of your landscape needs. Now let’s take a look at what you have to work with at your site.
First, a few words about your time and financial resources. Despite the suggestion of many TV shows, landscapes do not magically happen in 30 minutes, and don’t come free of charge with a dramatic reveal at the end. And gardeners don’t wear white pants or 3” heels or have long, clean fingernails… sorry, got off track there! The point is, most people don’t have 100 grand to drop on a complete package of grading, hardscaping, and mature plantings to get an instant effect that will impress the neighbors. Realistically, what type of budget do you have for this project? There’s no right or wrong answer here, there’s just your answer. Know what it is.
Smaller budgets will just increase the time needed to achieve your final vision. Plan on spending more of your own personal time on installation instead of hiring out the work. Start with smaller plants and wait for them to mature. You can grow more of the perennials from seed, and wait until next year for the blooms. Attend plant swaps – bring a few bags of worm castings to a swap, and you’ll have to beat back the gardeners offering you free plants.
On the other hand, if you have a really tight timeline (say, you’re trying to create your dream garden oasis in the backyard before your daughter’s wedding), you need to have a budget big enough to make things happen quickly.
Whatever your budget or timeline, do all of the design work up front so that you have a clear plan of attack. Then space the work (and expense) out over a timeline that works for you. It may be years – that’s ok. Install the hardscape this year, the large trees & shrubs next year, and fill in with perennials the following year. Having a full plan helps you install things in a logical order, so that you don’t run the bobcat over this year’s rose garden project to put in a rock wall next year.
One final note about time. When you’re done installing your landscape - how much time do you want to spend each week, forever, maintaining it?
Continue on to Design Series 2a) part 1